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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Study: 1-in-5 Combat-Deployed Air Force Women Show Symptoms of PTSD

From the Air Force Times:

About 20 percent of Air Force women who have deployed since the invasion of Iraq in 2003 are experiencing at least one major symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder, according to a survey of 1,114 service women conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan.

The study, by the university’s Institute for Social Research, found that in the Air Force women surveyed, work-family conflict is a significant predictor of PTSD, according to a news release posted on the American Psychological Association’s Web site.

“This finding is important because there are things we can do to help minimize work-family stress and the toll it is taking on women in the military,” Col. Penny Pierce, a reservist who is running the study, said at the association’s annual meeting. The findings are preliminary and have not yet been published in a scientific journal.

Click on 'Article Link' below tags for more...


Nearly half the women surveyed said their home lives rarely or never interfered with their work.

But the researchers found that women who experienced higher levels of family-work conflict were more likely to have symptoms of depression and anxiety, according to the APA Web site. ... About 62 percent of the 1,114 who participated had deployed in a war theater, according to the news release. Seventy-four percent were enlisted, and 26 percent were officers.

The Washington Post adds a few more details:

"Since the Gulf War, the role of women in combat has been a subject of heated debate. This study is the latest attempt to assess the impact of deployment-related stressors, including family separation, on military women, who now comprise 13 percent of our nation's armed forces," said Pierce. ...

Another study presented at the meeting found that almost half -- 42 percent -- of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan said they now felt like a "guest in their own home," and one in five felt their children did not respond warmly to them, or were even afraid of them. In many of these cases, depression or PTSD played a major role, the researchers reported.

Other female service member-related news, from CNN:

A U.S. soldier killed in Baghdad last week marked the fourth death of an American female service member this month, a toll that hasn't been topped since June 2005.

Eighty-two service women have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003
, according to the Pentagon. In 1994 the U.S. military began allowing women to serve in posts other than front-line infantry, special operations and artillery units. The highest monthly death toll -- four troops and a Defense Department civilian -- came in June 2005.

The Thursday death of Spc. Kamisha J. Block, 20, of Vidor, Texas, from a "nonbattle-related cause" was the fifth time that four female service members have been killed in a month, the Pentagon reported. It also happened in October 2003, November 2003, September 2006 and January 2007.

Block's death came the day after two female soldiers with Multi-National Division-Baghdad -- Sgt. Princess C. Samuels, 22, of Mitchellville, Maryland, and Spc. Zandra T. Walker, 28, of Greenville, South Carolina -- were killed by indirect gunfire during combat operations in Taji.

The first death of a female soldier this month came August 9. Sgt. Alicia A. Birchett, 29, a Multi-National Division-Baghdad soldier from Mashpee, Massachusetts, died in "noncombat-related circumstances," according to the U.S. military.

Sixteen female service members have died in Iraq this year, which puts 2007 on track to top the previous record of 20, set in 2005. Death tolls in other years are 12 in 2003, 19 in 2004 and 15 in 2006. Sixty-eight of those were from the Army. Six were Marines, five were from the Navy and three were from the Air Force.

The number of U.S. military deaths in the war stands at 3,700. Seven civilian Defense Department employees also have been killed.

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